March 31, 2023

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On Thailand’s Islands, Can Tourism and the Environment Coexist?

2 min read

Mr. Hagen, from Denmark, and his American wife, Rachel Yaseen, took over Evasion, an outdoor sports company, in May after bicycling around the world for three and a half years, and wanting a place to rest. She opened Untamed yoga studio a couple doors down, and they bought three sea-view villas in the hills on the south side of the island to rent out during the high seasons.

“It’s hard to say what’s not to like — there’s a huge variety of good restaurants and it’s affordable; the diving here is so super-easy and chill, and from the villa we can sit in the pool and see the turtles and the sharks,” Mr. Hagen said. “And the hiking here is definitely challenging, because of the steep hills.”

Evasion also offers tubing and wakeboarding, and he’s turning their boat into a solar-powered craft so it gives tourists a quiet ride and doesn’t harm the coral. He also has on order eight electric bicycles, and is in the process of getting their villas powered by solar panels and looking into renting electric motorbikes.

EcoTao, which opened on a steep, forested hill just months before the pandemic cut off tourism in March 2020, is perhaps the island’s only actual eco accommodation, where the 12 bungalows are made of bamboo and teak, most of the power comes from 100 solar panels, and rainwater is collected for showers.

Founder Yves Frangioni, a French entrepreneur and sportsman who moved to the island 16 years ago, believes the eco trend might be starting to catch on with tourists and businesses.

“We opened in December and we are busy always,” he said in a phone interview on his way to France for a couple of months. “I hope that many start like me, because it’s important for the small island, the planet, everything.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places for a Changed World for 2022.

Patrick Scott

2022-09-25 09:00:20

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